By Tom White
British Grand Prix stars Don and Derek Rickman manufactured eponymous
motorcycles from 1960 to 1975. Although the Rickman brothers originally
focused on making Reynolds 531 frame kits for BSA, Triumph, Norton and
Matchless engines, they knew that to sell motorcycles in large numbers
they needed to make complete bikes. Sadly, the British motorcycle
industry would not sell engines to the Rickmans, which forced them to go
looking for foreign sources for engine packages.
The Rickmans formed
agreements with Hodaka to supply them with 100cc engines, Zundapp for
125cc engines, and originally with Bultaco (1965) and finally Montesa
for 250cc engines. These small-displacement Rickmans, in comparison to
the kit bikes with British four-strokes in them, were mostly destined
for the burgeoning American market. At one point, Rickman sold 4000
bikes a year. The American demand was for small-displacement
two-strokes, and the Rickman engine deals were timed perfectly to
increase their U.S. market share.
The 1971 Rickman Zundapp 125 Metisse
was a classic example of what was possible. The components were of the
highest quality, including baby Ceriani forks, Girling shocks, Magura
levers and a potent Zundapp engine. Sadly, the very high $895 asking
price limited the bike’s commercial success. Eventually, production
Japanese-built motorcycles improved to the point where there was no
market for the Rickman brothers’ kit-style machines. They diversified
into garden furniture, hospital beds and Rickman Ranger kit cars. The
Rickman brothers sold their company in the mid-1980s, but today Rickman
motorcycles are in great demand. There are currently three companies
making Rickman replicas.
1971 RICKMAN ZUNDAPP 125 METISSE FACTS
WHAT THEY COST
A 1971 Rickman 125 cost $895.00. This machine was donated to the Early Years of Motocross Museum by Jack Martin in honor of Curtis Keller. The restoration cost about $6000.
You could purchase a Rickman frame in 1971 for a Yamaha, Penton, Sachs or Bultaco 125cc powerplant and build the machine yourself. If you wanted a complete machine, it had to be Zundapp powered.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Today, you can still purchase new Rickman-replica frame kits, but no one would go through the expense of building a fake Rickman Zundapp 125. Parts are difficult to find for the Zundapp, especially with the earlier engine that is in this bike.
Visit Rickman Motorcycles LTD at www.rickman-motorcycles.com. For Zundapp engine parts, contact www.fmunsters.nl.
For more info on classic bikes go to www.earlyyearsofmx.com